We awoke the next morning, I use the term loosely I’m not sure there was much sleep, somewhere in Iowa. Our stewardess? (whatever they are called on trains) kicked us out of the room so she could convert the beds to seats. After spending the night sleeping with our suitcases she informed us that not only could they be stored downstairs on some shelves but that we had to get them moved there.
The child and I went to find the dining car while my pack horse husband hauled luggage. It was our first taste of communal dining. I saw an empty table so I sat down. The waitress looked at me and I could tell from her malevolent glare that I had done something wrong. She was a wizened little thing wearing a rather unlikely Christmas elf hat. Apparently trying for a little Christmas spirit? Mostly the juxtaposition was startling. She demanded to know how many were in my party was it just me and the child? When I told her we were waiting for another she allowed me to keep my seat but quickly ushered a man into the booth across from me. I was a bit startled, unused as I am to eating with strange men.
When my husband returned, also surprised to find me dining with a stranger, we looked over the menu quickly deciding to split a nine dollar plate of pancakes. The poor unhappy waitress reiterated that the meals came with our room and we decided we could be much more liberal in our choices. By lunch we had the whole thing down and ate with out so much as a scowl from our server.
Iowa is a beautiful state with rolling hills and groves of oak trees, Illinois much the same and it was nice to be able to look out and enjoy the view with out having to drive. Unfortunately the train didn’t lull the child to sleep the same way a car ride does. Even without that pleasant trait there is something about a train, the muted roar of the engines as the steel wheels grind along the tracks. With each bump and sway a fear that this is the time the bounce will be to hard sending us hurtling off the track. It is a complete disconnect with the world outside this metal and glass universe in which we are temporary inhabitants.
As our destination drew nearer, and estimated time of arrival became later our contentment with our situation diminished slightly. We were supposed to arrive at one forty three, I love the exactness of their predictions. The train pulled in a good hour and a half late. My dad picked us up and we rushed home to get ready for our evening out.
Mom had reserved tickets for us at the six o’clock performance of Willow Creeks Christmas program. We should have had plenty of time to spare, as it was we arrived right on time slightly freshened but still a bit grimy from the train ride. The Christmas program is always a highlight of the trip for me, they do it up big. The opened very Trans-Siberian Orchestra like. A huge light show and very drum based.
Not very church like you think? Nonsense.
It was a very interesting rethinking of the three wise men, how could you tell that story without a drummer boy and the guiding star. They made a great video that played on the big screens interspersed with their spectacular music. In this remake the wise men were nineteenth century scientists and astronomers. We sat in the top balcony, there are two. The rails were hung with swags of greenery and white lights it is huge and beautiful.
We checked the Goblin Child into promise land, other wise known as children’s church or sabbath school depending on the church, usually she loves it. I think she did here too, or would have if she she had gotten any sleep at all in the last twenty four hours. We got to experience having her number flashed up on the screen, that’s the way they call parents to come get their children when they are having problems. Rushing as fast as we could from clear upstairs to clear downstairs we found her finishing a crying spell but mostly happy. When I took her from the lady who was holding her she leaned in for a cuddle then wanted to go back to the lady. So much for wanting her mother.
I wanted to take pictures of everything but as soon as we walked in the church door my phone died.